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The WrestleMania XXI Breakdown
Posted by J.D. Dunn on 04.03.2005



WrestleMania XXI

  • Live from Los Angeles, Cali. (where the helicopters have cameras).

  • Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole and Tazz.

  • Lillian Garcia opens us up with "America the Beautiful." Nice purple tips, Lil.

  • More clips and a new one featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin as "Gladiator."

  • Opening Match: Eddy Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio.

    This was kind of a no-brainer as the opener. Rey's interesting costume choices continue this year with a U.S.A. theme. Eddy grabs a headlock early. Rey flips out of a Fireman's Carry and shoulderblocks him down. Eddy comes back with an armdrag. Rey sunset flips him off an overhand knucklelock. Eddy slingshots him over the top to the floor. Eddy tries to follow, but Rey darts in and gets the 619 taunt. Another overhand wristlock battle. Rey lands on his feet off a backdrop and gets a reverse monkey flip. Eddy sends him off the apron with a forearm and planchas out on top of him. Back in, Eddy gets two off a high backdrop suplex. Eddy has to drop a Mexican Surfboard lest he pin himself. They botch a spot where Rey tries to backflip over him. Rey makes up for it with an armdrag to the outside. He follows Eddy out with a running corkscrew plancha. Back in, Rey gets the springboard vertical splash but runs into an elbow. He counters the Triple Verticals to a reverse rollup for a surprise two. Eddy stops any momentum with a backbreaker. Eddy gets two more verticals, but Rey headscissors him to the ropes. Eddy avoids the 619 and snaps Rey in half with a tilt-o-whirl backbreaker. Eddy finally gets the consecutive Triple Verticals. FROGSPLASH? NO! Rey rolls out of the way and rolls him up with La Majestral. Eddy counters that in a play on their match nearly a year ago. This time it only gets two, though. Mysterio hits the 619, but Eddy counters the springboard rana to a powerbomb. Eddy goes for another tilt-o-whirl backbreaker, but Rey counters to a rana rollup for three at 12:35. Eddy congratulates Rey on a job well done. Terrific opener, though not on the level of their 1997 match. ****1/4

  • Elsewhere, John Bradshaw Layfield and his staff run into what's left of Evolution. They compare notes and argue over who's better.

  • Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Christian (w/Tyson Tomko) vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Edge vs. Kane.

    Kane's entrance sets the ladders on fire! Everyone attacks Kane to start. Benjamin and Benoit team up to double suplex him. Christian to reaches for a ladder, but Jericho see-saws it into his face. Benjamin goes after Jericho, but Jericho bulldogs him. He follows that up with a springboard dropkick into Edge and Benoit, who are fighting on the apron. He follows them out with a plancha. Christian springboards into a plancha onto everyone. Benjamin one-ups him with a no-hands over-the-top somersault plancha. Kane then takes out everyone with a dive off the top. He beats on everyone with the ladder until Jericho takes him down with a missile dropkick. Now, Jericho uses the ladder on everyone. Benoit cuts that off with a German Suplex on Jericho that sends the ladder flying. Kane catches Benoit going up and tries to chokeslam him. Benoit counters to the Crippler Crossface! Edge comes in, so Benoit puts him into the Crossface. Kane breaks it up with the ladder and mangles Benoit's arm with the ladder. He turns and runs into a spear by Edge. Edge and Christian team up for a con-ladder-toe on Kane. Benjamin springboards into a double clothesline on E&C. Edge ducks the leg whip, and Benjamin takes out Christian with a kick to the ladder. Edge corner whips Benjamin into a ladder but misses a charge. Benjamin delivers the Stinger Splash into Edge into the ladder. Benjamin gets his hand on the briefcase, but Jericho cuts him off. Christian sets up another ladder right next to theirs. He and Benoit go up as Edge sets a third ladder. Christian takes Benoit out with a single-arm DDT off the ladder. Jericho gets knocked off the ladder, so Edge steps over to his position and tries to DDT Benjamin off the top of the ladder. Benjamin counters to a T-Bone off the ladder! Holy shit! Jericho curbstomps Christian into a ladder that has fallen against another ladder. Jericho reaches for the briefcase, but Benjamin scales the fallen ladder and knocks Jericho off!!! BENJAMIN IS FREAKING SPIDER-MAN! That spot really has to be seen to be believed. Kane comes in and tries to chokeslam Benjamin over the top, but Shelton gets his foot tied in the ropes. Tomko tries to help Christian up the ladder, but Kane clotheslines Tomko out and pushes Christian off the ladder to Tomko, who is on the floor! Kane and Jericho hang themselves on the top rope as they fall off the ladder. Benoit comes in, but he can barely move the ladder because of his injured arm. Instead, he sees Kane laying there and gives him a DIVING HEADBUTT OFF THE LADDER! Benoit goes up the ladder, but Kane does the Zombie Sit-up. Kane goes up, but Benoit headbutts him off the ladder. Benoit is alone on top, but he can't reach because of his injured arm. Edge WHACKS him with a chairshot, knocking Benoit to the canvas. Edge is all alone, so he scales the ladder and grabs the briefcase for the win at 15:17. Amazing spots, which were expected, but there was also a decent bit of storytelling unlike your usual mindless spotfest. If I'm Edge, I wait for Batista to win the title and then run out and challenge him on the spot. ****

  • Eugene comes out and spazzes out because he's at WrestleMania. He reminisces about WrestleMania III and the midget army that took on King Kong Bundy. Mohammed Hassan and Khosrow Daivari interrupt. Hassan says that since the WWE will not give him a WrestleMania moment, he'll make his own. He knocks Eugene down and puts him in the Camel Clutch. Guess who should make the save, but HULK FREAKIN' HOGAN! Hogan with the big boot, and he tosses Hassan over the top. Daivari tries to use a chair, but Hogan no-sells and boots him down. There goes Daivari over the top. Hogan does the WrestleMania closeout an hour into the show. Well, see ya next year kids, thumbs up for WrestleMania XXI. Oh wait…there's more.

  • The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton.

    Orton's big advantage is that he's not afraid of the Undertaker. A gaggle of flame-bearing druids surrounds the ring for Taker's entrance. He actually hovers down to the ring a la Seven in WCW. Randy tries to duck-and-move to start. He slaps Taker in the face. Oooh. That can't be good. Taker actually runs the ropes and runs right into a dropkick. Orton backdrops him but gets tagged with a soupbone right. Orton rolls over the top of Taker and schoolboys him for two. He goes for the RKO, but Taker picks him up and throws him over the top rope. Taker gets the guillotine legdrop on the apron. Taker with the Old School Ropewalk Forearm. Orton dodges a running high boot and dropkicks Taker off the apron into the barrier. Taker tries to fire back, but Orton explodes with a clothesline. Taker drops him with a DDT out of nowhere. A sideslam gets two for the Taker. Taker delivers a pair of corner avalanches and a Snake Eyes in the corner. Orton cuts off the boot with a reverse elbow. Orton fires away with punches, but Taker sits up. They botch clothesline, and Taker gets two. Orton settles into a Dragon Sleeper (thankfully called such by Tazz and Cole). Orton starts to fade but suddenly pops up and reverses it to a DDT for two. Orton grabs a regular sleeper, but Taker counters to a backdrop suplex. Orton gets dazed but a big boot, but he catches Undertaker with a powerslam for a nearfall. He gets some mounted punches, but Taker grabs him as he's posing and holds him overhead for the Last Ride. Orton slips off his shoulders and goes for the RKO. Taker pushes him into the ref for a very weak bump. Taker messes up another Last Ride and Cowboy Bob Orton runs down and BLASTS Taker with his cast. Heh heh. ONE…TWO…THRE-NO!! Taker goes for chokeslam, but Orton counters to the RKO in mid-move! ONE, TWO, THRE-NO!!! Awesome counter there. Orton says he's going to finish with the Tombstone. He picks Taker up…but Taker reverses to one of his own for the win at 14:15. Surprisingly good. You can make argument after argument about who should have gone over here, but there really was no wrong choice. Taker goes 13-0. ***

  • Recap of the Christy-Trish feud.

  • WWE Women's Championship: Trish Stratus vs. Christy Hemme (w/Lita).

    Trish lays down to give Christy an open shot. Christy won't take it, so Trish throws her to the outside and whips her into the ringsteps. Back in, Trish chops her in the chest (and she preps herself by licking her hand -- that's hot). Trish does a funny taunt of Christy. Christy blocks the Chick Kick and goes low as Lita distracts the ref. Christy with a rollup for two. Lita tries to help Christy on the outside, but Trish sends her into the barrier. Back in, Trish begs off, but Christy Tajiri kicks her and rams her head into the buckle. FIST OF TWAT! ONE, TWO, THRE--NO! They go through a reverse rollup reversal sequence. They screw it up, as the ref has to stop counting even though Trish hasn't kicked out. Trish finishes with the Chick Kick at 3:42. Well, people were practically expecting Christy to shit herself on the way to the ring, so this was something of a pleasant surprise. Lita's heel turn was almost palpable here, but it never happened. 3/4*

  • Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle.

    Shawn slaps him right in the mug to start! Angle takes him down into an amateur ride. They wind up in the ropes for the break. Shawn pulls him down into a side headlock. Crowd gets behind Angle. Angle backdrop suplexes him, but Shawn maintains control. Now it's a dueling chant by the crowd as Shawn rides him back down and gives him a cauliflower ear with the headlock. Angle forces to the corner, but Shawn takes him right back down. That segues to a short-arm scissors. Angle powers up, but Shawn counters to a sunset flip for two. Back to the headlock. Ross and Lawler marvel at how HBK has dominated the wrestling aspect against Angle. The ref has to pull Michaels off Angle as they wind up in the ropes. That enables Angle to blindside Michaels and put him in the anklelock. Shawn rolls out of it, and they go over the top. Shawn sets up the announce table, but Angle stops him and Angleslams him into the turnbuckle! Sick. Angle goes to work on the back and gets a series of two counts. He wraps his legs around Michaels in a bodyscissors. Shawn fights out of it but falls victim to a belly-to-belly suplex. Another gets two. They slug it out, and Shawn slaps him in the face again! Angle makes him pay by ripping his head off with a clothesline. Angle goes for a belly-to-belly off the second rope, but Shawn shoves him to the mat. Michaels goes up for the flying elbow drop…ANGLE MOVES! Angleslam? NO! Michaels armdrags out of it. Angle charges, so Michaels dips the shoulder and backdrops him over the top. Shawn follows him out with the FLYING CROSSBODY TO THE FLOOR! Crowd is rooting for Angle again. This is like the anti-Brock/Goldberg. Angle catches Shawn on the ropes and tries to German Suplex him off the apron through the announce table. Neither man budges, so the ref tries to pull them apart. Michaels lowblows Angle to a heel reaction. Angle winds up on the Smackdown announce table, so Shawn springboards into a corkscrew splash -- and the table doesn't break! Both men crawl back in before the ten count. Michaels wins a slugfest and gets the flying elbow. KIP UP! Crowd is split 50/50. Michaels with an atomic drop. He slams Kurt and goes up for the flying elbow drop. This time it hits! Michaels tunes up the band. SWEET CHIN MUS-NO!! Angle counters to the ANKLELOCK!!! Shawn crawls to the ropes but can't make it. He rolls through, but Angle hangs on. Shawn reaches for the ropes…and makes it. Mixed reaction for that. Angle goes for the Angleslam, but Shawn counters to a sunset flip. Angle rolls through that into the anklelock! Holy crap! Shawn rolls into a victory roll position! ONE, TWO, THRE---NO! Shawn with another attempt at Sweet Chin Music! NO! Angle grabs the ankle and reverses to an Angleslam! He goes up for the moonsault. MICHAELS MOVES! Angle is out, so Shawn goes up. Angle suddenly pops up and delivers the ANGLESLAM OFF THE TOP! ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! Michaels kicks out again. Kurt grabs Michaels by the face and yells at him to tap out. Michaels shrugs him off and hits SWEET CHIN MUSIC! ONE, TWO, THRE-NO? Kurt dubiously gets his shoulder up right at three, which Ross and Lawler pass off as the fault of a biased Smackdown referee. Shawn struggles to his feet. Suddenly, Angle pops up and grabs the anklelock. Shawn pushes him away, but Angle holds on. Again, Angle holds on. Michaels lunges for the ropes, but Angle pulls him back to the center. Michaels lunges again, but Angle lays down and scissors the leg. Michaels holds out as long as he can, but after a good forty-five seconds, he has no choice but to tap out at 27:25. Everything people expected and more. I'm not saying it was flawless, but it's a definite front runner for Match of the Year. ****3/4

  • The "Basic Instinct" trailer wins Favorite Punchline.

  • Piper's Pit: Piper asks who's the baddest, who's the prettiest, who's the baddest mo-fo low down around this town. He says he heard it was Steve Austin. He thinks that's bullshit (his words). Stone Cold Steve Austin comes down. Roddy welcomes him to the Pit with a slap in the fact. Lot of that going around tonight. Austin thanks him right back with another slap. Piper says he likes Austin. The crowd has a hard time keeping up the "what?" chants as Piper runs Austin down. Piper says he's the real rebel in the WWE. Austin says he's not scared by Piper. Carlito Cool, of all people, interrupts. He accuses them of slapping each other like little girls. He says that neither of them are cool. People don't want to see either of them, they want to see Carlito. Piper doesn't even know who he is. Carlito says he's taking over now, so they can just head to the back. Piper steals his apple from him and spits it in his face. THAT'S NOT COOL! What is it with Piper and attacking people with fruit? Carlito jumps Piper as Austin looks on for a spell. Finally, Austin pulls Carlito off him and stomps a mudhole. Piper provides an eye poke, and Austin sends Carlito packing with a Stunner. Piper and Austin share a drink, and Austin gives him a Stunner for poops and giggles. I was digging it until Carlito came out, then it was obvious he was Stunner fodder.

  • "Taxi Driver" wins Best Trailer.

  • Sumo Match: Akebono vs. Big Show.

    Cole calls this the first ever Sumo match, but I'm sure there have been others. Look there they are in Akebono's video package. It's not even the first one in the WWE. Earthquake defeated Yokozuna in 1994 on Raw. Cole later amends himself and says it's the first in WM history. Better. Neither man can budge the other. Show finally hulks up and lifts Akebono off the ground. Akebono lands on his feet and shoves Big Show off the ring to the floor for the win. Show raises Akebono's hand. Looked fixed to me, but there's still no way to really rate it. [No rating]

  • WWE Heavyweight Title: John Bradshaw Layfield vs. John Cena.

    JBL enters the ring first to a rain of cash. Stiff tie-up to start. Cena shucks out of a headlock and shoulderblocks JBL down. JBL blocks a charge and runs over him with his own shoulderblock. JBL forearms Cena to block a backdrop. He strangles Cena with the ring ropes and slingshots him into them. Cena blocks a charge with a big boot but runs right into a spinebuster for two. JBL busts out a cross-armed neckbreaker. MOVESET~! JBL lays in some rights. Cena tries to fight back, but Bradshaw whips him to the corner and follows with a stiff clothesline. Another clothesline, this time of the short-arm variety, puts Cena down. JBL grabs a sleeper, but Cena delivers a backdrop suplex. They clothesline each other for a double KO. Cena recovers first, but JBL pulls his pants, sending him to the outside. Back in, Bradshaw sets him on top and nearly knocks him off with a series of strikes. Superplex by JBL, but he can't capitalize immediately. It only gets two. JBL goes up top and comes off, but Cena counters to a powerslam. Now Cena is the one who can't capitalize. Cena hulks up and clotheslines him. A backdrop sets up a shoulderblock and a weak hiptoss. Five knuckle shuffle. JBL blocks a charge and goes for the Clothesline from Hell. Cena ducks and finishes with the FU at 11:26. God is dead. This was like a bad Randy Savage match from WCW where he gets beat up for 10 minutes and hits his one move for the win. Cena will have to pick up his game beyond this or else it could be a long summer. **

  • Recap of the "Hall of Fame" ceremony. We then take a moment to honor the inductees. Paul Orndorff has the good fortune to be escorted by MISS JACKIE~!

  • World Heavyweight Title: Triple H (w/Ric Flair) vs. Batista.

    Motorhead plays Triple H down as with WMX-7. Big staredown to start. A stiff tie-up goes nowhere. They go again, and Batista pushes him backward. Triple H tries a shoulderblock but runs into the brick shithouse that is Batista. A second attempt puts Batista on his ass. Triple H goes for the Pedigree, but Batista shoves him away and press slams him. Batista gives him a high backdrop. Triple H ducks a clothesline and delivers a high knee to send Batista to the floor. Flair provides enough distraction on the outside for Triple H to ram Batista into the ringsteps. Hunter catches Batista with an elbow as he's trying to get back in the ring. He chokes Batista for a couple of four counts, then Flair chokes him with his jacket. Hunter goes to work on Batista's back. He drives some knees to the small of the back and then delivers a backbreaker. Flair chokes Batista once again as Hunter distracts the ref. Batista fights back, but Hunter snaps his neck on the top rope. Hunter cuts off a comeback with a spinebuster and…the match cuts out? We come back to Hunter getting several two counts. Triple H goes for a Pedigree, but Batista backdrops out of it. Hunter gets a facebuster, but Batista kicks out powerfully. Hunter goes up top and comes off with a forearm, but Batista levels him with a clothesline. Batista catches him with a sideslam for two. He charges into a big boot. Hunter tries to whip him to the opposite corner, but Batista reverses and sends him over the top rope to the floor. To the outside, Hunter whips Batista into the steel steps. He tries to Pedigree Batista on the steps, but Batista slingshots him into the ringpost. Hunter staggers around the ring in a daze. Batista catches up with him and slams his face into the ringsteps a few times. Back in, Batista starts pounding on the cut. A corner clothesline drops Triple H to his knees. Batista delivers the knockout clothesline. POWERSLAM! Only two. To the outside now. Flair distracts Batista while Hunter tries to hit him with a chair. The ref blocks that, though, and appears to hurt himself. Flair runs in with the title but runs right into a spinebuster. Hunter blasts Batista with the title behind the ref's back. ONE, TWO, THR-NO! Hunter charges but it's right into a spinebuster. Batista goes for the Demon Bomb, but Hunter counters to a low blow. Nice facial expression by Batista there. Hunter goes for the Pedigree, but Batista is just too strong. He simply powers out and drops him with a modified Emerald Frosion. BATISTA BOMB! ONE, TWO, THREE! Batista wins the World Title at 21:27. ***


    Final Thoughts: Well, this was on its way to being every bit as good as last year's Mania, then it hit a wall in the last 90 minutes. If this were a regular PPV with the Michaels vs. Angle match being the main event, this would be one of the greatest PPV's ever. Unfortunately, it drags on after that and limps to a finish. Still, they made all the right moves booking-wise, so while the matches weren't great, they still have a certain historic value.

    Solid thumbs up for WrestleMania XXI

    J.D. Dunn





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